Making a VIPKid Bitmoji

Let me start by saying that this was not my idea. Many teachers have used this (probably more successfully than me!) But even though I used Bitmoji regularly, it took me a little trial and error to figure out how to make my very own VIPKid emoji.

I decided to write down a quick how-to guide to help!  Since not everyone has experience with Bitmoji, I’ll break it down into three sections:

  • Getting the App and making your own Bitmoji
  • Personalizing it for VIPKid
  • Making Props

and bonus content: installing the Bitmoji keyboard

Step 1: Getting the App and Making Your Own Bitmoji

  1. Download the Bitmoji app on your phone. Everything in this section needs to be done on your mobile device – either through the Bitmoji app or Snapchat.
  2. When you first download the app, you will need to register. If you use snapchat, you can log in using Snapchat. If you would prefer, you can sign up with Email.
  3. Once you sign in, you’ll be prompted to create a new Bitmoji. (This is the fun part!)  You’ll be prompted to choose everything about your Bitmoji from facial shape to eye color, and everything in between! Just choose each option and scroll to the next choice along the bottom of your phone app. It even lets you take a selfie so you can see your face next to your Bitmoji as you are designing it to see how close you are!
  4. Once you are finished, it will prompt you to go to “settings” and enable Bitmoji as a keyboard option. I suggest doing this while you are there, and I’ve put some instructions at the end.  But if you are ready to start making props, you can “skip” this step and go back and do this at any time.

Step 2: Personalizing Your Bitmoji for VIPKid

  1. As you are personalizing your Bitmoji, there are two things you will want to choose to make it a “VIPKid” teacher.
    • Headphones: These can be found under headwear, just like hats.
    • An Orange Shirt: There are several to choose from. If you don’t wear orange in class, just pick out something that suits your style
  2. Once you’ve chosen a shirt, you can also pick out a VIPKid logo or picture to put on the shirt when you print it and use it in props. I haven’t found a way to incorporate into digital Bitmojis, so no need to look for this in the clothing.

Step 3: Making Props

  1. From your laptop, desktop, or other favorite prop-making machine with a Chrome browser, go to http://www.bitmoji.com.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and download “Bitmoji for Chrome”
  3. This will add the small, green icon into the upper right-hand corner of your Chrome browser.
  4. When you click on it, you can search for different Bitmojis or click through the grey icons at the bottom.
    • The star shows recent Bitmojis used and popular ones.
    • The hand shows hello and goodbye messages (like a wave).
    • The face with hearts has messages of love.
    • The smiley face shows happy messages.
    • The face with no smile shows sad or angry messages.
    • The horn shows holiday or event-specific messages.
  5. Right-mouse click on the bitmoji of your choice and choose “copy.”
  6. Right mouse click in a Microsoft Word or Publisher document, a Google Slides document, Powerpoint, or other prop-making software. Click “paste.”
  7. If you’d like to add a VIPKid or Dino logo, find a .png image and paste it onto the Bitmoji. If you don’t have one, check out VIPKid Branding Resources and you’ll find several.

chrome extension

browser bit

Bonus Content: Installing the Bitmoji Keyboard

These instructions are for an iPhone, since this is what I own. 🙂

  1. Click on “Settings.”
  2. Click on “General.”
  3. Click on “Keyboard.”
  4. Click on “Keyboards.”
  5. Click on “Add New Keyboard.”
  6. Click on “Bitmoji.”
  7. Move the slider so that “Allow Full Access” is green.

Once you have the Bitmoji keyboard installed, you can toggle between it by clicking the small globe at the bottom of your iphone keypad between the “123” button and the microphone/spacebar. You can then copy and paste into text messages, emails, or even WeChat!

For other operating systems, check out Bitmoji help at their website.

I hope this is helpful. If you are just starting your VIPKid journey and are looking for a mentor, let me know and get started with the application! Otherwise, happy teaching!

Using Google Slides with VIPKid

Google Slides is a tool that can be used to enhance your ESL lessons. They are essentially online slide shows that behave similar to Powerpoint, but everything is stored in the cloud. Teachers often use Google Slides for rewards, props, or both.

What types of Google Slides are available?

There are too many different options to count! I personally use Google Slides mostly for rewards. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, to choose from.  Some of my favorites include:

  • Find a Star
  • Candyland
  • Teacher vs. Student
  • Tap and Reveal
  • and so many more….!

How do you display Google Slides?

There are three main ways you can display Google Slides.

  1. Holding your phone up to the monitor. (This is what I do.  You can check out this video to see how it looks on camera.)
  2. Using software like ManyCam or CamTwist. This is a great option to be able to alternate between your face and a reward in the classroom, but it does require meeting basic, minimum computer requirements and a little more tech-savvy.
  3. A second monitor displayed in your classroom.

There really is no right or wrong way to use Google Slides. The one limitation is that you must never try to upload the slides into the VIPKid classroom directly.

What are the benefits of Google Slides?

  • They are super easy. Once you get comfortable with the slide finder and/or the planner, you have hundreds of props and rewards at your fingertips!
  • They cut down on clutter. For prop minimalists, or those who travel, you no longer have to worry about keeping up with lots of different props and rewards for all different levels. Simply search and pull in what you need by type, character, or lesson.
  • They are totally customizable. Not only are you able to choose from a wide library of slides created by amazing teachers, but you can easily create your own too! Whatever you want to reinforce in a lesson – you can do so at your fingertips.

How can Google Slides enhance a VIPKid lesson?

I love to incorporate Google Slides with the interactive reward slides built into the lessons. Take a concept that’s in the lesson already and then build it out.

You can even customize your Google Slides to specific students and what they need to work on. I made a custom reward once using the artwork of one of my students.

I personally like to build in optional extension options. If a student is struggling and you are running short on time, you can do the minimum. If you are ahead of schedule and looking for extension options, you can spend time using questions and answers on the slides to add to the lesson.

I absolutely love Google Slides, and I use them more than any other reward. What’s your favorite reward? Let me know in the comments!

In the meantime, if you are just getting started and looking for more information on rewards in general, check out:

Types of VIPKid Rewards

Or, if you are wanting to get started with VIPKid, here are some tips on completing the VIPKid application or jump right in and apply here if you would like for me to help guide you through the process!

 

Types of VIPKid Rewards

What’s most important about rewards is that you do what works for you.

In VIPKid, you’ll hear a lot about rewards. One of the goals of our classes is to keep kids engaged by helping them have fun while they are learning!

There are several types of rewards that you can (and should!) use.  Below is a quick summary to help you get started.

Stars

In every class, the student has the ability to earn up to five stars. You should ALWAYS give the student ALL FIVE STARS! Kids redeem these for different prizes, and many parents consider it an entitlement, as though they’v epaid for these stars. You can give a star every five slides, or you can award them for particular behaviors. But always remember to give out all five stars! (I choose to have printed stars that I display, but this is a personal preference!)

Thumbs Up

These are available if you have a class in the “new” classrooms, so they might not always be available.  To award a thumbs up, you can click on the button that is right next to the stars. When you press it, the child receives one of two animations. One is a Dino saying “Good job!” and the other is a Dino saying “Perfect!” Some teachers feel that it’s not necessary to use this, but every time I use it, I get a big smile from my student. (Plus it gives me a break from saying it!) I usually try to use this once or twice per class if the student does something especially well.

2-D Rewards

These are usually printed rewards that you use and display on a whiteboard or easel. They can be as simple as fun, printed pictures of something the student enjoys. One of my personal favorites is a Spiderman printout with superhero words I can add as rewards. You could print out Disney princesses, My Little Ponies, Lego characters… the possibilities are endless.  You can also play games with printed rewards like find-a-star or tic-tac-toe. As I mentioned, I love having printed stars, and I have many different ones I’ve collected or made over time. Kids love getting stars and by adding variety to them in printed form, it keeps it fresh!

3-D Rewards

I am a big fan of “realia” or real items brought into the classroom. Kids also enjoy these! If you have kids, it’s super easy to use their toys as rewards as long as they don’t mind sharing! Lots of teachers use a 2-D printout of an ice cream cone with different scoops they add throughout the lesson. I have a toy ice cream cone with stackable scoops. The 3D option makes it easier to “lick” during class, and it looks great on camera! At Christmas, you could use stockings or gift bags with rewards in them, or you could even unwrap presents! Easter is coming up soon, so plastic Easter eggs filled with little prizes are always popular. Once you start looking around, you can find rewards everywhere!

Digital Rewards

I LOVE digital rewards, and they are my go-to reward. f you travel a lot or don’t like keeping up with a lot of clutter, this is the reward for you. Honestly, I often combine these with a 2-D reward system because I like to have something that stays visible in the classroom, but many people use digital rewards exclusively. You’ll hear lots of teachers talk about Google Slides. Google Slides is a tool that’s a lot like Powerpoint, but it’s all online. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of games and rewards. Some teachers hold their phone or an iPad up to the camera to show the reward, while others use software like ManyCam or CamTwist to switch between their face in the VIPKid classroom and a reward. Here’s a post that explains how I like to use Google Slides in class: Using Google Slides with VIPKid.

VIPKid Reward Slides and Interactive Reward Slides

These are built-in reward slides or game ideas that are a part of the lesson. If you are crunched for time or looking for something that enhances the lesson directly, these are great options. I sometimes combine these with other rewards just for fun. (Check out this video! for an example!

What’s most important about all of these types of rewards is that you do what works for you. I LOVE reward systems and I think they are fun to plan and use. That’s why I tend to stitch together fairly robust and multi-layered rewards. I enjoy them, and so my students do too! If keeping up with rewards stresses you out, your students will feel it, so keep it simple. There are some teachers who use printed stars, and that’s it! You and your students will find what works for you, and that’s what you should use.

If you have any questions or you have suggestions of what works best for you, let me know in the comments below! If you are not yet a teacher and would like some help, I would love to be your mentor. Be sure to check out the article Completing the VIPKid Application before you apply!

Happy teaching!

 

Do I Need a Secondary Reward in My VIPKid Class?

Should you use a secondary reward system in your classes?

My answer will always be yes. 

This is probably not going to be my most well-loved post. In fact, I’m sure many VIPKid teachers won’t like it at all. But… I’m going to post it anyway.

Should you use a secondary reward system in your classes?

My answer will always be yes.

Before I explain why, I’d like to address the elephant in the room. Inevitably, someone will jump in and say:

  • VIPKid doesn’t require us to use a secondary reward system!
  • VIPKid can’t require an independent contractor to use a secondary reward system!
  • VIPKid shouldn’t require us to use a secondary reward system!

While these may or may not be completely true based on your contract and current teaching practices, one thing is inarguable:

VIPKid ALWAYS recommends a secondary reward system. Why? Because parents appreciate it.

My son is a bartender. He isn’t required to make conversation with his customers, he just has to make their drinks. However, he has learned that when he does make conversation with them, he has happier customers and earns more tips. So my normally introverted 24-year-old has learned to be quite a social butterfly. With us, we may not be required to give a secondary reward, but if we do, we will have happier students and parents which will lead to more 5-apple reviews.

If you love rewards like I do, this should be easy-peasy.  I love finding and making props.  But if you don’t, here are a few tips and tricks that can make this task easier for you:

  1. Join an online community. There are many communities that LOVE rewards and will be happy to let you use theirs! My two favorites include:
  2. Consider going digital. The second link I shared is for a Google Slides group. For prop and reward minimalists, this can save a ton of time and money, and there are so many amazing resources that you can use.
  3. Find a few favorites. You don’t have to change your rewards every day or with every student. Find a few simple, versatile rewards that you don’t hate, and use those!
  4. Beef up your stars. Since we all already award stars in the classroom, many teachers choose to just expand on that. In the Videos and Props facebook group, there are links to lots of creative stars. If you are giving a star anyway, make it a Hello Kitty Star or a fire truck star. Boom! Cute, secondary reward that helps keep your students interested.

I’d like to leave on a funny note…

Every time I see a debate on this topic, I think of this exchange from the movie Office Space. Jennifer Anniston plays the part of Joanna, a waitress in a fast food chain. Her boss, Stan, plays her manager, and is having a conversation about why she isn’t wearing very many pins and buttons (“flair”) on her uniform. He points out that her co-worker wears 37 pieces of flair, while she is wearing the minimum 15 pieces of flair as required by the policy.  Here’s their exchange:

Joanna:
You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there Bryan, why don’t you make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?

Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager:
Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.

Joanna:
You know what, I do want to express myself, okay. And I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it.

The truth is, you don’t have to be a Joanna or a Bryan. To keep your students engaged and happy, there are lots of ways you can go above the minimum without being over the top.

If you have ideas or are looking for ideas to integrate secondary rewards into your teaching, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy teaching (and rewarding!)

VIPKid – Preparing for Mock Class (Lower Level)

There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are.

Congratulations on deciding to certify for lower level classes with VIPKid! This certification will allow you to teach Level 2 Interactive (the most popular level with VIPKid!) as well as Level 3. Always remember that there are materials provided in the teacher portal that can help you prepare for, and review, the course curriculum at any time. To get started, here’s what you need to know. Please note, this is current effective March 2019.

Before you begin, I suggest reviewing the VIPKid Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator. VIPKid will send this to you before your mock class, and your mentor can also provide you with a copy. This will tell you exactly what your VIPKid mock class mentor will be scoring you on. There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are.

1. Prepare for both lessons. There will be two different lessons (A&B) provided in the classroom.  Your mock class mentor will choose one of the two lessons for you to teach during your mock class, so please be sure you prepare for both!

2. Review the objectives for both lessons.

  • For <u>option A</u>, the goal is to teach the words “ball,” “throw,” and to blend phonemes z/r/s/h (onset) with -ip (rime.) You want to avoid a lot of words that don’t specifically support these objectives
  • For <u>option B</u>, the goal is to teach the nouns “kite” and “doll” and the verb “fly.” You will also be teaching target sentences “Do you fly a kite? Do you throw a ball? Do you swing in a swing?” with the goal being to have the student answer “Yes, I ______,” or “No, I don’t ______.”

3. Plan your reward system for both lessons.

Rewards are a hot topic with many teachers. There is a built-in reward system in all VIPKid curriculum. With Interactive Level 2, the reward is interactive, and the student can manipulate the items on the screen as part of their reward. If you ask 100 teachers how they use (or should use) the rewards, you will get 100 different answers. Honestly, that’s one of the great benefits of VIPKid is that students can learn differently with different teachers! My suggestion for the mock class is to build a custom reward that can be used WITH the interactive reward slide. That way, all your bases are covered. An ideal reward system:

  • Is fun!
  • Is visible at all times during class!
  • Supports the learning objectives!
  • Engages the student!

Be creative… if you love it, so will your students (and your mock class mentor!)  For specific ideas on how to get started, check out these posts:

4. Plan your props for both lessons.

It is important to have props that you bring to class to reinforce each lesson. It is recommended that you use at least three props, and at least two different types of props. Here are examples of different types of props:

  • Printed or Drawn (2D) props: flash cards, printed pictures, drawn pictures
  • Realia or 3D props: real items from your home that relate to the lesson, toy versions of items in the lesson
  • Digital props: gifs, google slides images that you display
  • Other props: whiteboard, magnetic letters

You will want to plan your props for both lessons in advance and practice with them on camera. It’s important to practice on camera so you are comfortable holding items closer to the camera or further away. Most laptops allow you to record sessions directly from your built in camera which is great for you to watch yourself and adjust.

Similar to rewards, find and use props that YOU enjoy. If you are excited about them, your students will be. Here are some ideas to get you started:

5. Anticipate Possible Errors

As you are planning your props, it’s a good time to anticipate what errors a student might make. If you are in a live mock class with a mock class mentor, I promise they WILL make mistakes just to ensure you catch them and are comfortable correcting them. If you are recording a demo, you will want to pretend that your student made a mistake to demonstrate how you could correct an error. Props are a great (and positive) way to help correct errors.

Here are a few ideas on common errors you might anticipate in each of your certification classes:

6. Plan your TPR for both lessons.

TPR is one of the fundamental building blocks of ESL. For most of us, it doesn’t come naturally, so it is important than you plan TPR and practice it. When I was first preparing to become an ESL teacher, I followed a three step process.

  1. Plan. I reviewed each slide and practiced different TPR techniques that I could use on each one. This got me comfortable making the motions.
  2. Practice. I practiced this TPR any time I had the chance. (My prime platform was my shower!) I didn’t memorize it all, but I got used to the common gestures I planned to use. The more you make the movements, the easier they will become.
  3. Preview. I recorded myself using my webcam practicing my TPR. That helped me get used to how big my gestures needed to be while still remaining on the camera. I found out which gestures looked the most precise and crisp and I was able to change those that did not convey a clear meaning. I can’t stress enough how helpful this step is. If you record yourself, your mentor can watch it and give you feedback, but you’ll also be amazed at how much you will notice. For example, even just waving goodbye looks so much better when you hold your hand stiff with your fingers together! The only way you can know this is by watching yourself in action!

7. Download the Teacher App and update your laptop’s flash and Chrome. VIPKid recommends using the Teacher App for all classroom activities, and it is also my tool of choice. If there is a problem, teaching through the Chrome browser is a good alternative, so have all of this updated and ready before you begin.  It also wouldn’t hurt to restart your computer or ipad.

8. Allow yourself time to go into the classroom and practice before you begin. VIPKid will give you access to a practice classroom, and I suggest using this so you get comfortable in the VIPKid environment. This will become second nature to you once you have taught a few classes, but it’s great to get your feet wet before your certification.

9. Set up your “classroom.” You do not need to spend a lot of money to do this, but you will want to put some thought into where you will be doing your mock class certification.

  • The background that will be visible in the video frame should create a learning atmosphere. VIPKid defines this as having visible props, an uncluttered, designated area, and having a space optimized for teaching.
  • You will want to be sitting or standing an appropriate distance from the camera so you can be clearly visible at all times, and your camera should be at eye level so it feels as though you are making eye contact with your student.
  • Lighting should be balanced with no shadows or significant glares on you or your props.

10. Review the application performance indicator (again.)  This is so important, it bears repeating.  There is no better way to meet VIPKid’s expectations than to clearly know what those expectations are. I was new to teaching in a formal class environment, and new to ESL, but I prepared extensively using this tool, and My VIPKid Interview Results were great. I passed my mock class certification the first time. I say this not to brag, but to help reassure you if you are feeling uncertain or overwhelmed.

The preparation time doesn’t have to be extensive, just intentional.  I hope that this guide helped you get ready for the process, and I would be happy to personally guide you as your mentor.  If you are interested, please apply using my referral link or add my referral code (AMELI0055) to your application.

Good luck!

 

Reward Ideas – VIPKid Lower Level Certification (Option A)

Congratulations on deciding to certify for lower level classes with VIPKid! This certification will allow you to teach Level 2 Interactive (the most popular level with VIPKid!) as well as Level 3.

You will need to prepare for two different options: A and B. You can see more about the preparation process HERE.

Part of preparing for each is to have a good reward system in place!  I want to encourage you to be creative and come up with something that you love, because if you love it and are excited about it, your student (and your mock class mentor) will be too!

It’s important to note that since the reward slide is the same for both options, you could use the rewards interchangeably. I am a bit of a prop over-achiever because I think it’s SO FUN, so I wanted to provide options that are unique to both.  So, in addition to the ideas for option B, you could do the following for Option A (My Toys – ball/throw.)

  • Print or draw pictures of each of the toys on the shelf. Each time the student is allowed to pick a toy on the reward slide, use tape to stick the picture of that toy on the wall behind you.
  • If you have kids, find toys that are similar to those in the slide. Each time the student picks a reward, show them a real toy.
  • Pick out a toy that you especially like (I would use the ball, since that is a target word for this lesson.) Have pictures (or real balls) of different colors that your student gets each time they earn a reward.
  • Find gifs that relate to each toy on the reward slide. When they pick an item, they get to watch a cute gif. (You can display these on your phone or on an ipad.)
  • Find gifs or pictures of different sporting activities (balls, people throwing and catching balls, etc.)
  • Print two pictures of each toy and write the phonics letters on each part. For example, on the two boats, you could write “z” on one and “ip” on one. When the student picks the boat, you make the boats ‘crash’ into each other and say the phonics word. “zzzz…..ip. zip.”

I will be recording a few examples of these in the next few days, and I will add that link here.

If you are a prop enthusiast like I am, you’ll be super excited right now. Not all of us are. 🙂 There are plenty of teachers who are proud to be “prop minimalists” and if that’s you, you might be thinking “What have I gotten myself into?” Rest assured that if props are not your thing, you don’t have to construct this elaborate of a reward system for every single class. If you want to, you certainly can! But while you DO need to have rewards, they can be far more simple or you can use the resources available from those of us who love to make them!

Speaking of which, if you are looking for a mentor and would like some help creating your own reward system or using one of these, I can absolutely help! Just sign up using my referral code, and I can provide links to the printed options above and a google slides reward that I put together for the gifs. You can sign up using my referral link or by adding my referral code AMELI0055 after you have applied but before your mock class. Just comment below and let me know what you are interested in, and I’ll be able to get your email from the referral portal and reach out to get you started!

I hope this was helpful, and good luck!